Parenteral iron use in the management of anemia in end-stage renal disease patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Jan;35(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/S0272-6386(00)70294-0.


Intravenous iron is required by most dialysis patients receiving erythropoietin (EPO) to maintain an adequate hematocrit. In the United States, there are currently two parenteral iron preparations, iron dextran and iron gluconate, approved for such use, and a third product, iron sucrose, is under development. This article reviews each of these products. Each of the iron products increases the efficacy of EPO use in anemia management. There is considerable experience in the United States and elsewhere with the use of iron dextran. Although it is clinically effective, iron dextran is also associated with significant morbidity from both dose-dependent and -independent side effects. The slow release of iron from this complex necessitates a delay in monitoring iron indices after the administration of large doses of iron dextran. Recommended doses of iron sucrose appear very safe with little risk of anaphylactic reactions. Adverse effects are uncommon and not life threatening. If approved for use in the United States, iron sucrose may be a safe and effective alternative to iron dextran. Iron dissociates from iron gluconate quite rapidly and may increase the production of ionized free iron. Iron gluconate may be a safe alternative to iron dextran for patients with severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. The risk of allergic reactions to iron gluconate is very low. The exact place in therapy for the newer iron complexes remains unclear. Currently available data suggest that iron sucrose and iron gluconate may have diminished adverse effect profiles when compared with iron dextran. Additional clinical experience will establish the role for these new iron products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology
  • Erythropoietin / administration & dosage
  • Erythropoietin / adverse effects
  • Ferric Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Ferric Compounds / adverse effects
  • Ferric Oxide, Saccharated
  • Glucaric Acid
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Iron-Dextran Complex / administration & dosage
  • Iron-Dextran Complex / adverse effects
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Peritoneal Dialysis
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Renal Dialysis


  • Ferric Compounds
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Iron-Dextran Complex
  • Ferric Oxide, Saccharated
  • Glucaric Acid
  • ferric gluconate